Elor Azaria, the Israeli occupation soldier who executed the wounded and incapacitated Palestinian man Abed al-Fattah al-Sharif in Hebron last year has been convicted of manslaughter (not murder). He now faces a sentence of up to 20 years – it will be interesting to see what he actually receives (though his legal team is likely to appeal both conviction and the sentence, leading to yet more drawn out pain and misery for the victim’s family).
Nevertheless, here are 12 important and highly instructive things you should know note about this case:
1) The court case was an anomaly…
It was only brought to court because there was incontrovertible video evidence. Extrajudicial executions by Israeli occupation forces happen all the time. Furthermore, had Azaria not shot the young man, in all likelihood he would have died anyway as he was left to bleed out, as happens to so many wounded Palestinians – and there would have been no court case in this scenario.
2) … as was the conviction
Azaria was likely only found guilty because a) the video was so clear and unambiguous and b) a representative of the International Criminal Court was monitoring at the case to ensure that the case was heard properly.
3) Despite frequent executions, indictments are rare…
Azaria, is the only Israeli official to be charged with the death of a Palestinian in 2016, a year in which at least 111 Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces and settlers, many of them in what human rights groups say are extrajudicial executions and “shoot-to-kill” policies supported by “senior Israeli officials” in violation of international law.
4) …really rare
Of 186 total criminal investigations opened by the Israeli army into offences against Palestinians in 2015, just 4 (2%) yielded indictments of any kind – none for murder.
5) The legal system for Palestinians is very different…
By way of contrast, the Israeli military courts in which Palestinians are tried have a 99.7% conviction rate in ‘trials’ that last on average 10 minutes.
6) … as are the sentences
A Palestinian convicted of manslaughter by a military court is subject to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, while an Israeli like Azaria who is convicted of the same offense is imprisoned for a maximum of 20 years.
7) Israel’s military courts are just an extension of the colonial army
As B’Tselem notes, Palestinians are tried by “soldiers in uniform enforcing martial law on the civilian Palestinian population living under military rule. The people who take part in administering the occupation are on one side, while the regime’s subjects are on the other. Military courts are not an impartial, neutral arbitrator. They are firmly entrenched on one side of this unequal balance.”
8) Fair trials are absent, torture is ever present
According to Amnesty International these court “proceedings [for Palestinian] do not meet international standards for fair trial”. In addition, torture and ill treatment (of both children and adults) along with other violations of human rights and international law are frequent according to human rights organisations.
9) Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been imprisoned since 1967
At present there are over 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. 400 of these are children, 64 female, and 720 (10%) are interned without charge or trial. Since 1967, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been detained under Israeli military orders. This number constitutes approximately 20% of the total Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territories and as much as 40% of the total male Palestinian population. It also includes approximately 10,000 women, as well as over 8,000 Palestinian children arrested since 2000
10) The majority of Jewish citizens of Israel support the killing
According to a survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute, 65% of Israel’s Jewish citizens support Azaria’s action.
11) As do senior Israeli politicians
Senior Israeli politicians including Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have all publicly supported Azaria.
12) Israel’s whole apartheid system is guilty – yet it enjoys complete impunity
Azaria is undoubtedly a vicious, cold-blooded executioner, yet he was unlucky in that he was caught on camera. He has become a scapegoat of sorts for a militarised apartheid state that routinely murders Palestinians (over 9,400 – including 2,150 children – in the past 16 years, 246 since October 2015) and gets away with it. The Israeli state imposes no sanction on it’s occupation military, and the international community in turn imposes no sanction on the state – ensuring that colonial violence will continue unabated. As Ayman Odeh, leader Joint List – which represents parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Israeli parliament – has noted, the “main difference in this case was the presence of cameras which documented the crime thanks to B’Tselem.” Odeh stressed that there have been hundreds of similar crimes and that “the rulers of Israel are the occupation’s criminals who produced murderers like Azarya.”
Without action, Palestinians will continue to die, be imprisoned, have their land stolen and be denied their rights – this is why we support the #BDS Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement for freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians and a true and last peace in the Palestine-Israel region.
(Source / 06.01.2017)